McGwire Hits Home Run With Baseball Fans

by Mark Gillespie

Sixty-two percent say Rose should be in Hall of Fame

GALLUP NEWS SERVICE

PRINCETON, NJ -- Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa have captured the hearts of baseball fans the last two seasons, turning Major League Baseball stadiums into their own personal driving ranges. Now, a new CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll confirms that fans consider them the greatest players in the game today. For the second consecutive year, Sosa comes in second to McGwire, who was ranked first by 23% of those polled. Sosa was selected by 16% of the fans -- twice as many as Seattle slugger Ken Griffey Jr., who led the list when Gallup asked fans this question in 1997. Last year, 36% of baseball fans gave McGwire top honors, compared to 11% for Sosa.

Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles came in fourth with 5%, down slightly from last year, when he received support from 6% of the fans. Among those players competing in this year's World Series, Atlanta's Chipper Jones and New York's Derek Jeter each received 2%, while 1% chose Braves pitcher Greg Maddux.

McGwire Leading Current Player Among All-Time Greats
Following the death of Joe DiMaggio in March, Gallup asked baseball fans to name the greatest baseball player of all time. As usual, Babe Ruth took top honors, as he has done in every Gallup poll on the subject since 1949. The "Sultan of Swat" received votes from 26% of baseball fans, with DiMaggio ranked second at 20%. Rounding out the top ten are Mickey Mantle (8%), Willie Mays (5%), McGwire (4%), Ted Williams, Ty Cobb, and Jackie Robinson (tied at 3%), Lou Gehrig, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, and Sosa (tied at 2%). McGwire and Sosa were thus the only current players on the all-time Top 10 list.

Yankees Versus Braves
Americans across the country are split almost down the middle when asked which team they would like to see win this year's World Series. Forty-four percent of those interviewed between October 21-24 chose the New York Yankees, while 42% chose the Atlanta Braves. Not surprisingly, there are major differences on this question by region. Easterners overwhelmingly favor the Yankees by a 64% to 24% margin. Southerners in turn favor Atlanta, but by a slightly lower margin of 58% to 30%. The Midwest tilts towards Atlanta, 45% to 39%, while Westerners favor the Yankees, 49% to 35%.

Rose Gets Respect From Baseball Fans
While just 2% of fans list Pete Rose -- the game's all-time leader in hits -- as the best player of all time, enough considered Rose one of the best players ever to vote for him in Major League Baseball's All-Century team. While the final results have not officially been announced, Rose has been invited to Atlanta to appear when the team is announced before Game 2 of the World Series Sunday night. This, despite the fact that Rose remains banned from baseball after he was accused of betting on games in 1989 and is ineligible for the Hall of Fame. In a Gallup poll conducted last July, 62% of baseball fans said Rose should be eligible for the Hall despite the gambling allegations against him.

Survey Methods
The results below are based on telephone interviews with a randomly selected national sample of 595 adults, 18 years and older, who describe themselves as baseball fans, conducted October 8-10, 1999, and randomly selected national samples of 628 and 499 adults, 18 years and older, who describe themselves as baseball fans, conducted July 13-14 and March 19-21, 1999, respectively. For results based on these samples, one can say with 95 percent confidence that the maximum error attributable to sampling and other random effects is plus or minus 4 percentage points for the October 8-10 and July 13-14 surveys, and plus or minus 5 percentage points for the March 19-21 survey. In addition to sampling error, question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of public opinion polls.

Who would you, yourself, say is the greatest baseball player in the game today? (OPEN-ENDED)

BASED ON -- 595 -- BASEBALL FANS; ± 4 PCT PTS

  Sep 25-28,
1997
Oct 9-12,
1998
Oct 8-10,
1999
Mark McGwire 4% 36% 23%
Sammy Sosa -- 11 16
Ken Griffey, Jr 24 8 8
Cal Ripken, Jr. 12 6 5
Derek Jeter -- -- 2
Chipper Jones -- -- 2
Barry Bonds 2 1 2
Mike Piazza 1 * 2
Tony Gwynn 1 1 2
Pedro Martinez -- -- 2
Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez -- -- 1
Greg Maddux 5 2 1
Nomar Garciaparra -- * 1
Larry Walker 2 * --
Roger Clemens 1 1 --
David Justice 1 -- --
Darryl Strawberry 1 -- --
Albert Belle 1 -- *
Frank Thomas 1 -- --
Mo Vaughn 1 1 --
Ryne Sandberg 1 -- --
Randy Johnson -- 1 *
 
OTHER 12 10 10
No opinion 30 22 23
  100% 100% 100%

* less than 0.5%

July 13-14, 1999
As you may know, former Major League player Pete Rose is ineligible for baseball's Hall of Fame due to charges that he had gambled on baseball games. Do you think he should or should not be eligible for admission to the Hall of Fame?

BASED ON -- 628 -- BASEBALL FANS; ± 4 PCT PTS

Yes, should 62%
No, should not 36
No opinion 2
  100%

Who would you say is the greatest baseball player of all time? (OPEN-ENDED)

BASED ON -- 499 -- BASEBALL FANS; ± 5 PCT PTS

  99 Mar 19-21 90 Apr 19-22** 49 Sep 3-8^
Babe Ruth 26% 31% 53%
Joe DiMaggio 20 7 --
Mickey Mantle 8 7 --
Willie Mays 5 4 --
Mark McGwire 4 -- --
Ted Williams 3 5 --
Ty Cobb 3 4 11
Jackie Robinson 3 1 --
Hank Aaron 2 7 --
Lou Gehrig 2 4 10
Pete Rose 2 4 --
Sammy Sosa 2 -- --
Cal Ripken, Jr. 1 -- --
Ken Griffey, Jr * -- --
Honus Wagner -- -- 1
Walter Johnson -- -- 1
Christy Mathewson -- -- 1
Carl Hubbell -- -- 1
OTHER 11 -- 19
No opinion 8 26 3
  100% 100% 100%

** Only top ten players are listed here
^ Based on those who follow baseball (51% of total sample)

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